Adjusting Your Adventures to Get Outside with Baby
Whether you are brand new to spending time in nature or a seasoned outdoor enthusiast, adding a new baby to the family doesn’t mean your adventures have to stop. As a mother of a 4-year-old and 9-month-old in Minnesota, here are some tips that I have found helpful to get outside with baby!
Where Do We Go?
I love nature walks with my kids, but I don’t like being the pack mule! So, we often visit wooded parks with short trail loops. This makes it easy to get back to the car if we are thirsty or the baby needs a new diaper. I love babywearing because it not only keeps baby comfortable and calm, but allows access to more rugged trails and off-road exploring than if we depended on a stroller. As our baby gets older and more mobile, we frequent places where my 4-year-old can run around, but that also allow me to set the baby down to safely explore. An open grassy area, shallow stream, beach, or somewhere with climbing trees are perfect!
Simplify What You Pack
To reduce the time and energy it takes to get outside with baby, we keep a backpack ready to go with essentials: diapers, baby wipes, picnic blanket, sunscreen, reusable wet bag for wet clothes, and an extra UV suit for each child. I dress my kids in sun hats and UV clothing that are quick-dry, easy to wash and okay to get muddy and wet. Long sleeves, long shorts and high necks minimize the sunscreen I need to apply, plus we are always ready for water play! Having grab-and-go snacks to throw in the backpack make packing food easy. Apples, bananas, granola bars, cheese, carrots, crackers and pouches are great! The only toys we usually bring are a bucket and shovel. Reduces the gear to bring and encourages our kids to get creative with their natural surroundings!
Support Your Older Child’s Feelings
After adding a new baby to our family, we quickly realized that the “being outside” part was easy compared to the “getting out the door” part. Transitions are hard for kids – especially when adjusting to life with a new sibling. Expect chaos and meltdowns! Kids have a deep-rooted need to feel like they are in control. Empowering children by letting them make decisions and complete tasks on their own helps reduce power struggles. So let them decide things like which snacks to pack. Give them the time and space to put their own shoes on. It’s normal for parents to feel overstimulated too; mindful deep breathing goes a long way. Pack as much as you can the night before and in the morning find a rhythm that feels good for you.
Even if you spend more time getting ready than you do outside, that’s okay! With some planning, flexibility, and patience, every minute your family spends in nature together is worth it. Celebrate the fact that you can get outside with baby and have fun!
– Kyrsten Bloch, Nature program leader for children, photographer, and Mama to a 4-year-old and new baby